At last week’s special called meeting/budget worksession of the Macon County School Board, Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin discussed the expected need for additional teachers throughout the district including Highlands School in the 2019-2020 school year.
Baldwin has been working with district principals including a workshop at which they requested 12 additional positions in the upcoming budget.
These positions include eight teaching positions, three teacher assistant positions and one guidance counselor position.
Based on early enrollment projections, Highlands School will need three additional teachers and one teacher assistant for next fall. The new positions include a kindergarten teacher, a teacher assistant, a middle school and high school teacher.
Based on the recent kindergarten registration held in early March, Highlands School will need an additional kindergarten teacher to accommodate the 24 kindergartens registered for the upcoming school year. Due to the higher enrollment for kindergarten, as per state law Highlands School has to add one additional teacher assistant next year.
Highlands School Principal Brian Jetter said the request for additional teachers is due to a few different reasons.
“First, the state reduced class sizes for K-3. Next year’s kindergarten registration that was held on March 12th, showed we will be over the 22 maximum students in kindergarten for next year,” said Jetter. “Next year’s first-grade is already at the maximum of 22 students because we have 22 kindergartners moving to first-grade next year. Next year’s second-grade is over the max of 22 students because we have 25 first-graders moving to next year’s 2nd grade.”
And there’s more.
“Second, we have over 30 students moving to 6th grade next year. That is simply a lot of students for one sixth grade teacher,” he said. “Third, we have one high school teacher resigning that teaches both Social Studies and Spanish. The state has increased Social Studies requirements for graduation. So now we need two teachers – one to teach Spanish and one to teach Social Studies because of the additional Social Studies courses that need to be taught.”
Highlands School is one of four schools in the district expected to need additional K-3 teachers; East Franklin and South Macon Elementary schools are also projected to need a first-grade teacher and the required teacher assistant for each classroom. Cartoogechaye Elementary will also need an additional second-grade teacher.
The four additional teacher positions at the elementary level are due to increased class sizes. These positions will require a teacher assistant because they are needed in K-2 classrooms. Total cost in the proposed budget to add the new K-3 positions is $156,638 dollars for the four K-3 teachers and $108,000 for the three teacher assistants.
“These K-3 positions should be covered by the state,” said Baldwin. “It’s legislated that individual classroom sizes cannot be above 22 students and the LEA (Local Education Agencies) average class size cannot be above 19 students. If we add two additional positions, it will put us at 19.3 LEA class size average. This gets us to the correct individual class size maximum but puts us very close to the LEA average class size requirement.”
Baldwin said the individual classes projected to be in violation of state law next year include Highlands School and Cartoogechaye kindergarten and second-grade; East Franklin kindergarten and first-grade and South Macon first-grade. He is hoping, but cannot be certain, that the state will cover most of the funding to accommodate for these class sizes.
“Based on allocated projections from the state at this time, we do anticipate that we will have an additional .9 – almost one position based on ADM (average daily membership of students in public education), almost one position from the state based on ADM projection,” said Baldwin. “That is a projection; at this point we won’t know if we will get that position until July if the state budget is passed by then. We will have 10 days after the first day of school to adhere to the state law for enrollment.”
In addition to the kindergarten and teacher assistant positions, Highlands School will also need a sixth-grade teacher and a social studies or foreign language teacher for the high school at a projected cost of $65,600.
The other position requested for next year is a guidance counselor for Union Academy at a cost of $52,000 based on five years’ experience and language arts teachers at Franklin High School at $35,000.
– Kim Lewicki, Highlands Newspaper